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Wednesday September 7, 2011Lacrosse Magazine Tabs Florida Gators Preseason No. 2

Gainesville, Fla.

Lacrosse Magazine released its Early Top 5 for 2012, and ranked the University of Florida as its No. 2 pick. The Gators come in behind only the defending National Champion Northwestern Wildcats, sitting ahead of No. 3 Maryland, No. 4 Duke and No. 5 North Carolina.

The Gators return to the field in 2012 after an outstanding sophomore season, going undefeated (5-0) in the American Lacrosse Conference to earn the regular-season title and advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. The second-year program boasted a 16-4 overall record, including winning the first 12 home games of the season.  Florida knocked off three top-10 teams, including a marquee win over then-No. 2 Northwestern on April 14, to claim the conference title. Following the exciting victory, the Gators rose to No. 2 in the April 25 IWLCA poll, becoming the highest ranked second-year program in NCAA history. The Gators finished the year ranked No. 5.

UF returns all of its starters from 2011, while ushering in one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. Kitty Cullen (Rockville, Md.) led the nation in scoring throughout the 2011 regular season, finishing the year ranked second in the NCAA in both goals (77) and goal per game (3.85), and fifth in points (86). Mikey Meagher (Liverpool, N.Y.) finished 10th in the country in goals-against average (8.67), while finishing in the top 50 in saves (129) and save percentage (.439). Additionally, Ashley Bruns (Ellicott City, Md.) ended in the top 20 in both points and assists, claiming 16th in points (74) and 18th in assists (28).

The Gators racked up a plethora of postseason honors following the 2011 season, garnering six All-ALC honors and seven All-America honors. Cullen was named ALC Player of the Year, while earning three first-team All-America honors, IWLCA first-team All-South Region, first-team All-ALC and a nomination for the prestigious Tewaaraton Award. Bruns joined Cullen on the All-ALC first team, while earning three third-team All-America honors along with IWLCA second-team All-South Region. Defender Sam Farrell (Millersville, Md.) made the WomensLacrosse.com All-America second team along with the IWLCA All-South Region second team, joining Bruns and Cullen on the All-ALC first team. Additionally, Janine Hillier (Farmingdale, N.Y.), Haydon Judge (Chestertown, Md.) and Mikey Meagher all received second-team All-ALC honors. Head Coach Amanda O’Leary was recognized for her outstanding leadership, earning ALC and IWLCA South Region Coach of the Year honors.

In addition to the returning student-athletes, Florida boasts the No. 3 recruiting class in the nation, as selected by Inside Lacrosse Magazine. Four of the Gators’ incoming freshmen, Shannon Gilroy (Huntington, N.Y.), Nicole Graziano (Mendham, N.J.), Nora Barry (Marcellus, N.Y.) and Sally Jentis (Ridgewood, N.J.) were all ranked in the top 25, while Taylor McCord (Jacksonville, Fla.) was named to the Watch List. The Gators also welcome freshmen Maegan Meritz (Farmingdale, N.Y.) and Mikki Offit (Bethesda, Md.), along with junior Gabi Wiegand (Bay Shore, N.Y.), a transfer from the University of Richmond.

The Gators will kick off the fall season on Sept. 30, when they host the Jacksonville University Dolphins in an exhibition game beginning at 5 p.m. The game will feature three 30-minute periods, rather than the standard two. UF will also host the Orange and Blue Scrimmage on Oct. 22, and will head up North for two offseason tournaments in October.

Lacrosse Magazine’s Early Top 5 for 2012

1

Northwestern

The Wildcats lose only two starters, Colleen Magarity and Lacey Vigmostad, from the 2011 championship team

2

FLORIDA

The Gators, who peaked at No. 2 in the IWLCA rankings, graduate no one and return All-Americans Kitty Cullen and Ashley Bruns

3

Maryland

The Terps have great depth, even with graduation losses and the unclear prognosis on midfielder Karri Ellen Johnson (concussion).

4

Duke

Tewaaraton finalist Emma Hamm will be the heart of the Blue Devils as they try to break through to their first national championship berth.

5

North Carolina

Becky Lynch (40g, 36a, .567 shooting) will pick up where Corey Donohoe left off; the midfield is in good hands with Laura Zimmerman

 

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